Some personnel from GHS in a chat after the event

IT IS estimated that 12,000 children will die by the year 2020 as a result of growth stunting.

Statistics from the Ghana Demographic Health Survey (GDHS) shows that due to the prevalence of anaemia in Ghana, one in 13 children dies before his or her fifth birthday.

From 2011 to 2020, the GDHS estimates that there could be as high as 97,000 deaths of children below five years of age through stunting alone.

This statement was contained in a document distributed by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) during a media roundtable discussion in Accra on the need to invest in nutrition.

The discussion provided the media and other stakeholders the platform to highlight the need to promote proper nutrition interventions.

Under nutrition is said to contribute to the mortality levels in children less than five years of age in developing countries as it impaired their immune systems, placing them at a much greater risk of illness and death.

Eight in every 10 children under the age of five according to statistics are anaemic; a slight increase over the about seven in 10 children affected in 2003.

According to the document, despite the great strides the nation was making in health and economic gains, available data pointed to the deficiency of micronutrients particularly vitamin A, iron, and iodine which was having an immense impact on child mortality .

GDHS Statistics has also indicated that prevalence of anaemia among pregnant women rose from 65% to 70% between 2003 and 2008 whilst among non-pregnant women, there was a huge increase from 48% to 58%.

About 9,000 pregnant Ghanaian women will die by 2020 if the anaemia levels during pregnancy do not improve. It is estimated that 20% of the country?s disturbing maternal mortality ratio of 451 per 100,000 live births was caused by anaemia.

The 2011 Ghana PROFILES and the GDHS 2008 had projected that between 2011 and 2020, GH?5billion ($3.5billion) would be lost in decreased worker productivity due to stunting.

It noted that between the same period, GH?1.9 billion (U$1.3billion) would be lost in manual labor including agriculture productivity as a consequence of iron deficiency anaemia, whilst GH?955million ($668 million) would be lost due to mental impairment from iodine deficiency.

To help improve the situation, Deputy Chief Nutrition Officer, Esi Amoaful said there was the need for optimal breastfeeding, appropriate complementary feeding, vitamin A supplementation, iron-folate supplements for pregnant and lactating women, salt iodization and fortification of staple foods.

She advised parents to avoid giving their children too much sugary food and rather ensure that they ate enough protein, vegetables and vitamins.

Ms Amoaful also stressed the need for government to commit more to ensuring that health, nutrition and agriculture-related programmes addressed the causes of under-nutrition.

By Stella Danso Addai

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